Friday, January 02, 2009

When Two Tingles Intermingle (1.03.10)

Today's meisterful invOcation:

Poised between two forms of nothingness, the nihil by way of eminence that is God, and the nihil that marks the defect of creatures, Eckhart's mystical way will be an invitation to the soul to give up the nothingness of the created self in order to become the divine Nothing that is also all things. --Bernard McGinn

Continuing with yesterday's post, Bolton concludes that "dualism would appear to be an intellectual image of the cosmic order." I would prefer a term such as "generative complementarity," which is to be distinguished from a static dualism by virtue of the fact that the former is capable of evolving into the "higher third," thus converting existence from the closed circle to the open spiral, or.... what's the word, Jeeves? Yes, an asymptotic gyre.

In most cases, we can see that a stubborn dualism that we'd like to get rid of is a complementarity that we need to work with. Of course, that is not always the case, for one side of a duality can be a negation, rather than complement, of the other; for example, leftism is the negation of classical liberalism, not its complement, much less any kind of "progressive" integration. Similarly, feminism ends up creating masculinized women and feminized men, and is the death of the dynamic tension that.... that.... Let's just let Frank describe it:

How little we know / how much to discover / what chemical forces flow / from lover to lover / How little we understand / what touches of that tingle / that sudden explosion / when two tingles intermingle

Indeed. That is an example of complementarity. But we all know that relationships can descend into the static dualism, or "drama," that many people confuse with generativity:

The broken dates, the endless waits / the lovely loving and the hateful hates / the conversation with the flying plates / I wish I were in love again / Believe me sir, I much prefer / the classic battle of a him and her / I don't like quiet and I wish I were / in love again

Yes, who among us hasn't had the conversation with the flying plates? Isn't that why the trolls come here? They're not here to con-verse, which means to "flow together." Rather, they are here to stir up contro-versy, which means to "flow against" in their characteristic unDude manner. Our most recent anonymous troll couldn't stop throwing around the plate in his head.

The possibility of knowledge hinges on the dualism of phenomena and noumenon. To "know" means to shorten the distance, or close the gap, between appearances and reality. (As we shall see later, the reverse is true for "spiritual progress," in that the closer one draws to God, the more one appreciates the distance.) It seems that Truth bifurcates into these two realms, which it must do on pain of having no creation at all. Paradoxically -- but not really -- you could say that existence itself is the first "fall," since it is a descent from the Principle. But don't sweat it. Eternity is still in love with the productions of time.

Obviously, it is impossible for us to imagine what the cosmos looks like "with no one there." The possibility of knowledge presupposes not just a knower, but a particular point of view, a "separation of the subjective and objective components of perception" (Bolton).

But this split is not a pernicious one, nor can science ever heal it. Rather, I agree with Polanyi that the separation of subject and object creates a generative transitional space in which our understanding may evolve into deeper and more comprehensive syntheses of reality. Thus, the practice of science can be seen as a kind of shadow of infinite truth, except that, unlike mysticism, it can never reach the goal.

Still, as Bolton says, dualism "enables us to go abroad while staying at home. All that is 'out there' is at the same time 'in here,'" meaning that science is simultaneously a deepening of the objective and subjective horizons -- so long as one doesn't regard the external world in the naive manner of the bonehead materialist or reductionistic Darwinian. As we always say, consciousness reveals more about Darwinism than Darwinism will ever reveal about consciousness. If you remember this, you can accept any findings of Darwinism without being caught in its pneumacognitive nets.

Bolton agrees that representation "commits us to the idea of a Representer, and this is what is normally identified with the soul." Furthermore -- and this is a key point -- "for the soul, the body and the whole physical world which the body belongs to, appear as content. While the body is essentially something contained, the soul is essentially a container of phenomena." As such, the "complete I" includes "the world-containing and world-representing soul," and "the world, as it appears from one's own unique point of view, is in a real sense a part of one's identity" (emphasis mine).

This makes perfect sense to me, because we all know how dramatically different the world appears when we are depressed, or in love, or an atheist. Each of these conditions allows one to "see" realities that might otherwise be foreclosed. For example, I do not deny that atheism discloses something about reality, just as does depression. If nothing else, they teach us that we always transcend the content of experience, for when we return to normal, we see that we had been living with blinders on, which is another way of being dead.

One thing we must be aware of is the ubiquitous societal pressure to see and experience the world in materialistic terms, which is to die to God for the sake of the world, rather than vice versa. Balthasar:

"[N]aked matter remains an indigestible symbol of fear and anguish. Since nothing else remains, and yet something must be embraced, twentieth-century man is urged to enter this impossible marriage with matter, a union which finally spoils man's taste for love. But man cannot bear to live with the object of his impotence, that which remains permanently unmastered. He must either deny it or conceal it in the silence of death."

God gives himself to man as far as that is possible, and it is only possible to the extent that the individual being is a world-containing entity with endless extension described above.... In short, there must be some common measure between the recipient and the received. When the human state is seen in this light, it will not be difficult to proceed to the idea of man as God's mediator in the world. --Robert Bolton, Self and Spirit

Then again, as Saint Teresa of Ávila might have said of the Groom, So long as you kiss me / and the world around us shatters / How little it matters / how little we know.

23 Comments:

Blogger Joan of Argghh! said...

consciousness reveals more about Darwinism than Darwinism will ever reveal about consciousness. If you remember that, you can accept any findings of Darwinism without being caught in its pneumacognitive nets.

Just once, I'd like to see a representative of ANY Christian stripe, use that blue mackerel of Truth up side the head of the next MSM interviewer angling to make all Christians out to be idiots.

True Christians are more free to fearlessly learn everything about their entire world than Darwinists are free to learn about about even their own selves. The former includes all knowledge. The latter, rejecting any absolutes, is constrained by its own self-imposed myopia.

1/02/2009 09:02:00 AM  
Blogger QP said...

We saw a film yesterday that pulsates with concentrated duality.
We loved Slumdog Millionaire. It's a joy-filled, authentic shout-out from the heart about the human spirit. Alternate title could be: "When Two Tingles Intermingle"

1/02/2009 11:16:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

It's funny how an author's use of the language influences how the reader receives the message. Personally, I struggle to catch the rhythm of Bolton's words, though you haven't quoted ideas I disagree with -- ha! assuming I understand them correctly!

The good news is that you cross-reference these subjects with one another, and if I pick up on one it may well illumine the next two that I don't quite understand.

A perfect example from today:
...the "complete I" includes "the world-containing and world-representing soul," and "the world, as it appears from one's own unique point of view, is in a real sense a part of one's identity..."

I've been reading Merrell-Wolff, whom you mentioned a couple of weeks ago, and he emphasizes this exact point. So when I read the quote above today, I could nod casually, and think, "Oh, of course."

1/02/2009 11:18:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, M-W talks about "reversing the vector flow," back up the mutual source of both world and soul. We call this "floating upstream."

1/02/2009 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

I just added a quote from Balhasar at the end of the post:

"[N]aked matter remains an indigestible symbol of fear and anguish. Since nothing else remains, and yet something must be embraced, twentieth-century man is urged to enter this impossible marriage with matter, a union which finally spoils man's taste for love. But man cannot bear to live with the object of his impotence, that which remains permanently unmastered. He must either deny it or conceal it in the silence of death."

1/02/2009 11:26:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

BTW, that's what we call the "terminal moraine of the senses."

1/02/2009 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

This also intrigued:
Bolton concludes that "dualism would appear to be an intellectual image of the cosmic order." I would prefer a term such as "generative complementarity," which is to be distinguished from a static dualism by virtue of the fact that the former is capable of evolving into the "higher third," thus converting existence from the closed circle to the open spiral...

A drawing of opposites, such as the yin/yang diagram, would seem to me to be an example of static dualism. But taken as a symbol, I assume it is "moving," and therefore includes more dimensions. We fail to grasp the depth (or height?) of some re-presentations of ideas, including their "aliveness," or movement.

So your sense of "generative complementarity" is right, I think, and does allow for transformation. Just my two cents.

1/02/2009 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

Since I had it handy, here is the M-W passage that illumined today's statement for me:

So finally I must conclude that the only hope for man, taken individually or as a whole, rests upon a process of Awakening which I, together with some others, have called 'Recognition.' This is neither pure experience nor pure formal demonstration but a totally different kind of Knowledge. I have called it 'Knowledge through Identity' [through the Self]. It is Intuition, in the highest sense. Genuine Knowledge through Identity is infallible and absolute. It is substantial and not relative. It does not mean something other than Itself but is absolutely Its own Meaning.

Knowledge through Identity is not possessed of any self but IS the SELF. It is not 'knowledge about,' not even in the sense of 'about God,' but is Divinity Itself.

1/02/2009 11:32:00 AM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

Yes, as mentioned in yesterday's post, I think it's both ground and goal, alpha and omega....

1/02/2009 11:37:00 AM  
Blogger mushroom said...

Walt said: A drawing of opposites, such as the yin/yang diagram,...

What that made me think of was the involvement of the artist in the drawing. There's that step-back power that allows opposites to be perceived, yet united in the consciousness.

Ho, and then my wv is inesters -- nesting in the I.

1/02/2009 12:07:00 PM  
Blogger julie said...

Only 10 comments, after such an outstanding start?

Slackers ;)

So I finally finished reading The Adventure of Consciousness this week.

Very interesting.

I admit, there are a few sections which give me pause (though I had to laugh when most of my initial objections were addressed fairly quickly), but on the whole I found it to be an excellent introduction to Aurobindo.

Up next is Denys. I figure in another 30 years or so, if I keep at this, I might be close to where you are now, Bob. Which puts me only 10 years behind the curve; I can live with that :)

1/02/2009 10:25:00 PM  
Blogger Gagdad Bob said...

FYI, the best introduction to Denys that I've found is in Louth's Origins of the Christian Mystical Tradition, because it gives all of the background and context by building up to his thought through the first five centuries of Christianity. After that -- at least in terms of mystical theology -- I don't think he's equalled until Eckhart comes on the scene.

1/03/2009 06:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Our most recent anonymous troll couldn't stop throwing around the plate in his head."

I don't think I need to remind you how it started, and the embarrassing tantrum half this community took to words that were never said, yet everybody injected their own meaning into a neutral statement. And then everybody got mad at me as if I did it to start something.

1/03/2009 06:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

No, you needn't remind us. But the plate affects short term memory.

1/03/2009 06:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, so you meant to say, "WE couldn't stop throwing the plate around in OUR heads."

1/03/2009 07:11:00 AM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

Yes, but you are forgetting that we are rubber and you are unglued.

1/03/2009 07:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Umm, I don't believe I'm the one still bringing it up. I still stand by my position yes, but I haven't brought it up. So, good luck convincing yourself I'm the one unglued.

I'm completely content not bringing it up, but I do read this blog and I will step up if you decide you want the issue to continue. Otherwise, find a post that wasn't in response to somebody else. You'll find if it doesn't come up, I don't bring it up.

1/03/2009 07:27:00 AM  
Anonymous Cousin Dupree said...

Agreed. Do keep checking in every day. You never know when someone here might be trying to steal your precious bodily fluids.

1/03/2009 07:48:00 AM  
Blogger walt said...

I believe it was Hank Stram who said, "You can't win if you can't forget."

1/03/2009 08:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes because I check in every day to see if there's an argument to start. That totally explains why I haven't commented every day.

Presumptuous.

1/03/2009 08:13:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well Walt you should inform them they won't win when they bring it all the time.

1/03/2009 08:16:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

"While the body is essentially something contained, the soul is essentially a container of phenomena." As such, the "complete I" includes "the world-containing and world-representing soul," and "the world, as it appears from one's own unique point of view, is in a real sense a part of one's identity" (emphasis mine).
This makes perfect sense to me, because we all know how dramatically different the world appears when we are depressed, or in love, or an atheist. Each of these conditions allows one to "see" realities that might otherwise be foreclosed. "

Not only does all you see and do form a distinct context, from which nothing can truly be separated; but you also gotta remember not to forget that you are also a part of the context of all you see and do - forgetting to remember can leave your knowledge dismembered.

1/03/2009 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger Van said...

Julie said "Only 10 comments, after such an outstanding start? "

Heh... speaking of context.... I got outta bed yesterday, robe on, coffee in hand, strolled down to my office as if I were going to make the best of my first official day of unemployment.

No sooner had I settled in, than the HoneyDO! list came out. Shattered my slackaspirations to bits... and it's still unrolling.

Unemployment's for the birds, too damn much work involved.

1/03/2009 09:38:00 AM  

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